• Mar
    8

    How To Use Camera RAW in Corel PHOTO-PAINT X4

     

    PHOTO-PAINT X4 offers the ability to process Camera RAW files. RAW files have little processing imposed on them by the camera, allowing the photographer to create the final result, unlike other images, such as JPEG, that are processed in the camera. With Camera RAW, you can adjust the white balance, tonal range, contrast, color saturation, and sharpness without losing image quality.

    To use RAW files in PHOTO-PAINT, you must have a camera that allows you to save your files in their native format. If your camera supports this function, your next step is to determine if PHOTO-PAINT supports your camera. To do so, visit the Corel site and check out their knowledgebase

    Note: All the images used in this chapter were shot using the Canon G9, which is now supported by the Service Pack 1 release. I shot all images at a resolution of 4032 x 3024. Files of this size can be taxing on the processor, so if you apply a change and it doesn’t happen right away, please be patient.

    Before You Begin 

    Here are few things to know about working with Camera RAW images. 

    A common characteristic of Camera RAW files is that they are flat, dull and soft. In a processed image, such as a JPEG, these issues are taken care of for you. Processing in-camera means that the camera has taken care of certain settings for you, such as white balancing, sharpening, color correction, compression, etc.

    When evaluating an image, it’s important to use the histogram. Doing so will show you important information about what’s happening with the image itself.

    When you save a Camera RAW image after processing a good choice is TIFF, partly because it’s been around for many years and is a stable format. If you decide to use JPEG, be aware that it’s a “lossy” format and if you compress the images you will lose image information. In practice, I recommend that you use JPEG with the maximum quality setting (to prevent image degradation) and to save an image as a TIFF, as well. More information is in Chapter 13: Understanding Web Page Graphics and File Compression. Note that shooting at the highest resolution will take up a lot of space on your camera’s card. Also, saving images as a JPEG is not a true indication of the file size. 

    Note: Camera RAW files cannot be saved to a RAW format within PHOTO-PAINT. Also, be aware that if you don’t save the changes made to RAW files within the Camera RAW Lab (in another format), those changes will be lost. 

    Bringing Camera RAW Files into Corel PHOTO-PAINT

    When you select one or more Camera RAW files, they show up in PHOTO-PAINT in the Camera RAW Lab. It’s here that you can adjust the color and tone. Adjustments made to one file can be applied to all images. 

    Working with RAW Files

    You’ll notice that the layout in the Camera RAW Lab is straightforward and resembles that of the Image Adjustment Lab. At the top left of the dialog box are the Rotation tools (which rotate the image by 90 degrees), the Pan, Zoom In/Out, Zoom to Fit, Zoom to Normal Size and Zoom Slider (with an option for a numeric setting). To the right of that are the ways that you can display the image, as a Full Preview, Before and After Full Preview and Before and After Split Preview. At the far right are several major controls, including the Color Depth popup, and three major tabs, controlling Color, Detail and Properties. Directly below that is the Histogram with warning icons on either side, which alert you to problems with the image. The Histogram is the place you want to start with when evaluating an image. Below is the Hints area, which gives you helpful information on what to do with a given image. At the bottom far left are the Undo and Redo button, Reset to Original and Create Snapshot. When you find a setting that you like, you can create a snapshot, allowing you to preserve that setting as you work on an image. If, later on, you don’t like the changes, you can revert back to an earlier snapshot and restore those settings. 

    as-shot

    The first step is to bring the image into PHOTO-PAINT. To open a Camera RAW file in PHOTO-PAINT X4, click on File: Open. Select one or many files, and click on open. Another option is to use File: Import, but you have to have an image open already, otherwise this option won’t work. 

    Color Depth

    The next step is to select the Color Depth, which you’ll find at the top right of the dialog box. Your choices are 48 bit (16 bits/channel) or 24 bit (8 bits/channel). This makes it easier to reproduce colors accurately, especially when dealing with shadows and highlight areas and prevent image quality loss. One thing to be aware of is that some special effects in PHOTO-PAINT won’t work with 48 bit images. Also, Lenses don’t work in 16 bit, either. These are typically available as adjustments to an image but the corresponding lens doesn’t work. 

    Working with the Histogram 

    Before you begin your adjustments, have a look at the Histogram. This is the main starting point, as it allows you to see the tonal range of the image. Among other things, you can look for clipped images. This refers to image pixels being shifted to white (highlight clipping) or to black (shadow clipping). This is important because if you have highlight clipped areas, those appear totally white and retain no detail, while shadow clipped areas appear as black and also contain no detail. You’ll notice a warning button to the left and right of the histogram. These are to indicate if the image contains either highlight or shadow clipping. Depending on the severity of the clipping, the image might not be recoverable. 

    as-shot-clipping

    Note: If you go too far with your corrections, you could wind up posterizing the image. This is where the number of tonal values in an image have been reduced, removing  gradations and creates areas of flat color. 

    The image on the previous page shows an example of shadow clipping in the
    Histogram. 

    The White Balance Settings

    Immediately below the Color Depth popup are the Color, Details and Properties tabs. Of these, White Balancing is the process of removing color casts from images, allowing them to appear as they were viewed in real life.

    You’ll notice that when you bring an image into the Camera RAW Lab, the default setting is “As shot.” If this setting isn’t to your liking, you can choose a new setting from the popup list as a starting point for image correction. These include: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash and Custom. Another option is to use the Eyedropper tool to set the contrast using a white or gray point you choose in the image preview window. Be aware that using the White Balancing settings will remove color casts from the highlights, not necessarily the entire image. 

    Note: “As shot” refers to the original form of the image, how it was shot, before any processing. It’s the default when you bring an image into the Camera RAW Lab.

    Temperature and Tint

    Here you correct color by changing the color temperature to recreate the original lighting conditions. This is more of a global setting for color temperature, which you then fine-tune by using the Tint slider below. The Tint slider allows you to adjust the green or magenta in the image. 

    Saturation

    This slider lets you control the vividness of colors. Moving the slider

    Exposure

    This allows you to compensate for the lighting conditions in the image. Exposure values (EV) range from -3.0 – +3.0. To compensate for low exposures, move the slider to the right; for high-exposures, move the slider to the left.

    Brightness/Shadow

    The Brightness slider lets you globally brighten or darken the entire image. To adjust only the darkest parts of the image, you must use the Shadow slider. This is especially useful in photographs where the subject appears to be in shadow, the result of backlighting behind the subject. Using this slider allows you to lighten those dark areas. 

    Reducing Noise 

    One aspect of RAW camera files is the issue of noise, either luminous (grayscale) or color (chroma). This noise tends to be the most obvious in the darker areas of the image, such as a dark blue sky or shadows. Luminous noise will look like a form of white snow, while chroma noise looks like randomly dispersed pixels of color scattered around.


    The Camera RAW Controls in Depth 

    Sharpening Images or Reducing Noise 

    Assuming that an image is open within the Camera RAW Lab, click on the Detail tab and adjust the either the Sharpness, Luminance Noise or Color Noise sliders as necessary. 

    Note: when using the Color Noise slider, be aware that higher settings might reduce the color accuracy. Also, working with both settings tends to create a better result. If you selected multiple raw camera files and want to apply the same adjustments to all of them, enable the Apply to all remaining files check box at the bottom right of the Camera RAW Lab dialog box.

    The image below shows the shadow portion of an image zoomed in to 220%. Note the effect of noise reduction on the right, using a Luminance setting of 25 and a Color Noise setting of 10.

    noise-reduction

    The image on the below shows the before and after adjustments of working within the Camera RAW Lab. Since all the details aren’t visible in the tabs, here are the settings that I used below.

    corrections

    Color Depth: 48 bit
    White Balance: As shot
    Temperature: 7,07
    Tint: -21
    Saturation: 15
    Exposure: -0.3
    Brightness: 0.0
    Shadow: 6
    Sharpness: 25
    Luminance Noise: 25
    Color Noise: 11

    Additonal Notes

    Converting a RAW file opens a TIFF file in PHOTO-PAINT. An original RAW file cannot be saved over by PHOTO-PAINT. And even though you can apply settings to subsequent files, you cannot save the setting for later use on the original file or any other files.

    © Nathan Segal Questions? Write to me.

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